Archive for the ‘Blog Post (short for weblog)’ Category

R.I.P. Prince

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

tn_princeCan’t believe I just wrote that subject line. I always thought Prince was an ageless immortal. I don’t know if I’ll end up writing a piece about him or not. You all know how much I love him.

It’s kind of beautiful that he died in the studio, at least. I’m glad it wasn’t in that random hospital when he made the emergency landing recently. And I’m glad I went through the trauma of worrying about him during that or I’d be blindsided today.

That guy had a talent and a drive beyond human comprehension. I don’t know what will happen with his legendary vaults of unreleased music, but even among the official releases there is more than most people can handle. So his life was a gift to us all.

I just put on Lovesexy. It’s weird, but that’s the one that really made me fall in love with Prince’s music. I mean, I enjoyed “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” and “Little Red Corvette” and everything in the ’80s. And I actually I got into Batman and Diamonds and Pearls and even the symbol album, but it was when a friend played me Lovesexy that it went from flirtation to love. These weirdly, uniquely Prince funk sounds that bleed into each other, Sheila E playing some weird super drum set, Prince singing about heaven and hell and sex and weird unexplained characters (Spooky Electric?), background voices and chants fading in and out. “And while you’re at it tell your mom about THIS!

prince (read the rest of this shit…)

You can support me through Patreon now

Monday, April 4th, 2016

tn_vern[note: I’m gonna keep this post at the top for a little bit. Check below for new posts.]

Hello friends,

Thanks to the encouragement of Clubside Chris and several of the regular commenters I’ve decided to try Patreon. (CLICK HERE FOR MY PAGE THERE.) If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a crowdfunding platform kinda like Kickstarter except instead of supporting a specific project (like a statue of Robocop, a short film about Robocop, or an epic poem about Robocop) you’re supporting the output of an artist or writer or podcaster or whatever. So you can set it to donate a couple bucks monthly and if enough people do it it adds up to bill-paying money. It’s like in Great Expectations, he has that mysterious benefactor helping him to become a gentleman, but instead of doing it because I helped you get your shackles off when you were escaping prison you do it because I recommended a good Scott Adkins movie to your or something. (SPOILERS for Great Expectations.) (read the rest of this shit…)

New directorial work from Michael Jai White

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Check out the trailer for the third NEVER BACK DOWN movie. The first two were about young people in an underground fighting circuit, this one follows White’s great mentor character from part 2 into what looks more like a ROCKY type sports drama. Co-star Josh Barnett is a fighter who caught my eye by being really funny in a villain role in Seagal’s ABSOLUTION. Also you can see that the MUAY THAI GIANT and haver of perfect baby brother Nathan Jones is in there, plus at  least one cool cameo given away in this trailer. Fight choreographer is Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED 3, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, also part 2 of this series). I look forward to this one.

Jai alone can solve

R.I.P. Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016


I have to say a few words about Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest (pictured center), who died last night. Rolling Stone reports that it was due to complications of diabetes, which is what you’d expect of the MC who called himself “a funky diabetic” on the classic “Oh My God” and who several years ago received a kidney transplant. It was donated by his wife, as was touchingly depicted in Michael Rapaport’s documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life.

I have to agree with the conventional wisdom that A Tribe Called Quest is one of the best rap groups ever. There was a time in the ’90s when I started to resent them as the group that every white non-rap fan would say they liked, along with Beastie Boys. But eventually I had to admit to myself that those guys were right. I liked their first album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, which they made when they were teenagers and wearing to wear goofy costumes. The album holds up due to songs like “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It?” But it’s their second album, The Low End Theory, that makes them all-timers.

I still kinda remember the feeling of hearing it for the first time. It seemed so weird and stripped down compared to the complex samplescapes that I loved at the time. The sampling of some jazz basslines and horn riffs seemed very distinct and novel at the time, but the drums seemed so simple and raw. And that’s what still stands out to me today. As much as I love their voices and words, I am hypnotized by the drum. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lucas Minus Star Wars: What have we learned?

Friday, February 19th, 2016

tn_lucaslucasminusstarwarsThank you for indulging me these last few months as I went through all 44 years of George Lucas productions, from the one he made when he was 27 (THX 1138) to the one he made when he was 70 (STRANGE MAGIC). As you know, I’m interested in how Lucas created possibly the most beloved thing in pop culture history (the original Star Wars trilogy) and then became nerd culture’s biggest pariah when he came back to the series later in his career. The Star Wars phenomenon (both its dark side and light side) is so blindingly powerful that it eclipses everything else he’s ever been associated with. I thought it would be valuable to look at his filmography but with Star Wars removed from the equation.

Kind of. You may’ve noticed that I’m too fascinated by his idiosyncratic later work and much of the world’s fanatic hatred of it to leave it out entirely. I couldn’t help but find foreshadows and echoes of the prequels in most of his other movies. I tempted fate by bringing it up again and again, showing (as I was discovering it) that the prequels fit into a larger body of work and obsessions than just that one particular saga about the space conflicts. I want to thank all the commenters for not falling too much into another debate about prequels and special editions even though I kept leaving an opening for it. (read the rest of this shit…)

So long 2015, you hustlin sonofabitch

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

tn_mcqueentoastWell, it’s been a year again. 365 days of 2015ness have passed, that much I know for sure. I did not manage to become a successful or highly paid individual yet. I lost some family. The world lost Darren Shahlavi, Roddy Piper and Wes Craven. A bunch of less celebrated people got shot and blown up all around the world. I’m against it. Stop doing that.

I’m gonna focus on the positive though. My life is mostly good, and I make it through the bad days in part because of you guys and what we do here. I think I had a year of writing that I can be proud of. Let’s go over some highlights.

As is my tradition now, I started the year with Clint, revisiting THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Later in the month I saw his AMERICAN SNIPER, which I still think is more complex than it got credit for. And if you think that makes me a war apologist, fuck you. I didn’t see you seeking out actual Iraqi films about the war like AHLAAM to write about too. That was me that did that.

Speaking of Bradley Cooper movies, I finally reviewed THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, so I can include a link whenever I mention Cooper for any reason. In that sense I really made alot of progress this year.
(read the rest of this shit…)

BEWARE! people talkin Star Wars

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

tn_starwarsPlease note, I will not be seeing the new Star picture until Friday night. I will be leaving the internet to seclude myself in the mountains or somewhere, hopefully to return with a review next week. I know some of you are gonna want to comment on it before then, so I made this post so you can use it and not some unrelated review where somebody might be reading the comments not wanting you to spoil FORCE AWAKENS for them.

But please remember that much of the world will not have seen the movie yet. Be honorable and not only try to avoid spoilers for now, but fill the beginning of your comment with a bunch of non-specific stuff so there is nothing even remotely midly almost spoilery in the “recent comments” thread. WE DON’T WANT TO FUCKING KNOW. Be nice.

“Patience my young padawan learner, be mindful of I have a special set of skills give me the fucking elephant.” –Qui G. Jinn

Happy Boonta Eve everybody and may the force awakening you! (that’s from Star Wars)

(read the rest of this shit…)

End of year plea and special offer

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

tn_christmasTHey everybody, I didn’t think to do this on Black Friday, let alone Black Friday Origins: Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday, Whatever It Is Sunday, Cyber Monday, Steam Punk Tuesday or Wednesday Wedding Day, but now here it is The Next Saturday and I just want to remind everybody that if you happen to do your Christmas or other shopping through Amazon or Amazon UK you could really help me out by using my search bars or links, no matter what it is you buy. You pay the same amount you were gonna pay anyway but then they slice off a little chunk for me.

And I have just now decided on a special deal I’m gonna do. Now through the end of the year, if you do one of the following things to support me:

  1. buy a NEW copy of any of my books
  2. buy some stuff through my Amazon links
  3. donate something to my Paypal thing
  4. buy one or more of my Vern’s Fleamarket products (using my link gets me referral money on top of royalties)

(see sidebar for links)

…and then email me about it (outlawvern at hotmail dot com) I will send you a signed bookplate that you can put in one of my books, stick to your Kindle screen or put on your guitar case or whatever. Please put the word BOOKPLATE somewhere in the subject line of the email so I can find them easier, and let me know the name to sign it to and address to mail it to. Also, please specify if you need it for a Christmas gift so I can try to rush it to you. (Note: I just now decided to get some custom ones made, but if you need it fast I have a box of Garfield ones around here somewhere that I’ll try to find). (read the rest of this shit…)

Bruce Lee’s 75th

Friday, November 27th, 2015

tn_bruceleebruceleeiconI should be back on Monday with my review of CREED, but I didn’t want today to pass without acknowledging what would’ve been Bruce Lee’s 75th birthday. Among his many contributions, consider that pretty much anyone who starred in a martial arts movie in the past, say, 35 years got started after seeing a Bruce Lee movie. So if it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have nearly as many reviews on here.

It seems to me there are alot of people who know of Bruce Lee but haven’t actually sat down and watched his whole movies, and I think they could benefit from them. The bad news is he didn’t live long enough to make very many true starring vehicles, the good news is that makes it easy to catch up with. It’s not like getting into Sun Ra or Frank Zappa or something. I’ve even considered making an instructional pamphlet about it called SO YOU HAVEN’T SEEN A BRUCE LEE MOVIE…

In lieu of that, let me share the links to my reviews of Bruce’s movies, in case you haven’t read them.

THE BIG BOSS, a.k.a. FISTS OF FURY, is the first real Bruce Lee vehicle, and an early example of some of my favorite badass cinema techniques.

FIST OF FURY, a.k.a. THE CHINESE CONNECTION, is his only historical period piece type deal. It has many great and iconic scenes, though does suffer from some serious nationalism. (It has also been remade, including by Jet Li as FIST OF LEGEND.)

ENTER THE DRAGON I bet you’ve heard of. Great movie.

WAY OF THE DRAGON, a.k.a. RETURN OF THE DRAGON is my personal favorite Bruce Lee movie, the only one he directed, and the one where he kicks Chuck Norris’s ass in a textbook-great martial arts duel.

GAME OF DEATH has the iconic fight against Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the yellow and black jumpsuit, but it’s actually a horrible exploitation of Lee’s death and unfinished work-in-progress. You can watch it or not, but be sure not to miss BRUCE LEE: A WARRIOR’S JOURNEY, the documentary that explains the movie he was really trying to make and then reconstructs all of the scenes he shot (the best fights he ever did). There’s also a GAME OF DEATH II which is less morbid and more fun than the first one, but only has a little bit of obviously recycled Bruce footage. It’s mainly about his character’s brother.

Bonus points: MARLOWE, the ’60s take on the Raymond Chandler character starring James Garner has a couple great scenes with Bruce as the villain’s henchman.

My new most anticipated movie: MANIAC COP

Friday, September 25th, 2015

tn_maniaccopWell, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD had a good decade-plus run as my most anticipated movie. And that worked out well. I doubt I’ll ever see another one pay off like that in my life, but it’s always good to have things to look forward to, to keep you going.

Right now there are plenty of lower key projects to be excited about, from the finally-happening BOYKA: UNDISPUTED IV to the new STAR WARS picture. But right now the one that pushes my buttons the most is actually a remake of MANIAC COP.

This has been in development for a while, to be produced by Nicolas Winding Refn and (last I heard) scripted by Ed Brubaker, writer of acclaimed crime comics (and Seattleite I believe). Sounds fantastic. But what takes this news to the next level is the director: John Hyams, the genius behind UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, DRAGON EYES, THE SMASHING MACHINE and RANK. I have spent the last five years wondering why the hell some studio hasn’t given this guy a budget to deal with, since his straight-to-video works easily out-thrill, out-style and out-smart most big screen action movies, including $200 million dollar duds like, I’m sorry to say, the recent TERMINATOR picture. (read the rest of this shit…)